Family Getaway, Career Update, & Other Thoughts

Hi there! It's been a little while since I've blogged but I'm learning that blogging sometimes is better than not blogging at all. Truth be told, I've had a bit of a difficult year. My work load at my full-time job increased, leaving me little time to work on my wardrobe/interior consulting business and related projects. This tested my perseverance, and I felt trapped in my job. These kinds of trials have a way of bringing out our deepest insecurities, and I became overwhelmed with resentment, regret, and fear of failure. Although I wanted so badly to leave my job as a psychological evaluator, I was not in the financial position to do so, and I continued to work and serve in disappointment (a la Sarah Jakes Roberts). This has been one of the most difficult things I have had to do but I think God has a way of purging us before we become all that we want to be. Otherwise, if we take our insecurities with us, our success will be built on a shaky foundation, and we may not be strong enough to handle success with all of its pressures.

As of now, I continue to work around my full-time schedule. I'm still running the consulting business, and I have put together a social psychology of dress class that I hope to teach in a university or elsewhere. I also managed to start a podcast with my college friend, called Be: Finding Ourselves through Relationships. It's a chat show that explores friendships and topics of interest. We already did one episode and hope to get that  up and running shortly. Also, I earned a certificate in design psychology last year, and I'm currently working on a certificate in interior design. I'm excited to use all my new skills in my business. While things may be happening slower than I expected, I have faith that it is still happening.

So with all of that, my family and I decided to go on a pre-summer getaway to Orlando. We didn't do Disney, and from others' reactions, I'm realizing that is not the norm.  "Are you going to Disney?" was pretty much the standard line of questioning from anyone I told about the trip. But NOPE, it was just a chance to get away, spend quality time with my kiddos and husby, and most of all de-stress. Keeping in mind that I haven't taken a trip in a while, I had to get use to having so much free time. My husband planned the trip so I wasn't sure what to expect but it was fun for the kids, and pretty relaxing for me. We stayed at the Holiday Inn resort, and it was a true family resort with bright colors, palm trees everywhere, and lots of activities for the kids.

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Our hotel suite was simple, functional, with some modern design elements. The color scheme was neutral with pops of yellow, blue, and red; and it felt fresh and fun.

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While I appreciate resorts and what they have to offer families, I'm always interested in seeing where and how "real" people live-- even in Central Florida which pretty much looks like the rest of America with palm trees. Kind of like this below, but I'm usually into homes that are a little less....scary?

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Since we didn't have the time to devote to some serious house-stalking (with three bouncing children), we decided to visit flea markets where "real" people sell their stuff. We didn't find any that stood out, but we came across some ethnic food stands and must-have smoothies.

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After we had enough of exploring, it was all about the pool, for the kids that is. I, on the other hand, chose to spend my time in the hot tub since I already decided that I was not going to get my hair wet- the vanity! I know.

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On other days, we decided to do some learning (to make up for the kids being out of school and all that).  We toured the marshlands looking for alligators (we saw half of one) and got a glimpse of how indigenous people lived. I'm always so intrigued by the lifestyles and homes of natives and early settlers.

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(I thought I'd spruce up this amazing marshland with a little pink.)

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Of course, there's always room for ice-cream!

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...And antique stores! I found this wonderfully chaotic junk store while trying to drag my family to another vintage store I saw online but couldn't find. I was not able to search all that well with the kids, but saw some cute pieces. 

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This is the face I was making by the time I realized I was ready to come home- ha! not really. I was glad to be away, but coming home isn't bad either. We actually missed our flight (blame it on the security lines) and ended up flying at night. It was inconvenient but it worked out. Check out the view from the airplane -just breathtaking *sigh*.

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Last but not least, our plane selfie- well it's not really a selfie but ya know...

5 Signs Your Wardrobe is a Symptom of Distress and What to do About it

I’ve always loved clothes. I still remember my first favorite dress given to me as a gift for my 5th birthday. It was deep red and white, and very fluffy. I felt like a princess in it. Even then I reveled in the power of clothes as a transformative force that can make me feel like my most amazing self. Fast forward to my college years, and clothes had become a hallmark of my self-expression. I didn’t use it as much to fit in as I used it to stand out. Through clothing I could express my individuality, my awareness of trends, and my willingness to mix it all up to create my own sense of style. I even became more aware of the therapeutic benefits of clothing. I remember many years ago, feeling really anxious about giving a class presentation, and my roommate told me if I put together a nice outfit, it can ease my nerves. So I wore a sensible, stylish pencil skirt, and layered on a bunch of pearl necklaces. I felt like a lady who lunched with a touch of rebellion. And although I was still nervous, the outfit helped me feel more prepared, and I got an A! But dressing up isn’t always the cure for a restless mood. Sometimes dressing down does the trick. I find that dressing moody (e.g., ripped up jeans and a t-shirt) when you feel moody is as much of a pick-me-up as a bluesy jazz song.

On the other hand, there are times when clothing becomes a symptom of poor mood and distress rather than a prescription for it. As Jennifer Baumgartner says in her book You Are What You Wear, your clothes reveal more about you than you may realize, and each item signifies a deeper, unconscious choice. When your clothes become a sign of your distress it is a signal to make some internal changes. No, changing yourself on the outside won’t always fix what’s going on, on the inside. And as a counseling psychologist, I’m well aware of the need for people to make internal changes a priority. But aside from having to deal with deeper-seated emotional issues, working on the outside with a little guidance, can be an impetuous to get your internal self in order. There are numerous signs that your clothing is telling you to make some inner changes. Here are five indicators below and what to do about them.

1. One Too Many Regretful Purchases

Most of us have experienced a regretful purchase. The one we made when we were rushing to pick up the kids or to get to an appointment. Or, the one we made because we were so excited about it that we didn’t really stop to think it isn’t practical or not very comfortable. While a few regretful clothing purchases are to be expected, it is problematic when it becomes a pattern. That’s when you regret nearly every purchase, maybe because you aren’t sure it’s right for you, or you’ve concluded  it definitely isn’t right and do not see yourself wearing it. I remember when I was searching for a well-made jumpsuit--one I could wear for a long time, but wasn’t able to find one in my price range.  So one day when I was rushing with my daughter, and had no business shopping for anything, I went into a store and came across this multi-colored, animal print, patterned jumpsuit. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I bought it without much thought. The fit was workable, but the pattern and colors were overly trendy and not long-lasting. As I got home and tried it on, I knew it was the wrong choice, and never wore it.

When we habitually make regretful purchases, it’s a sign that we are not clear about what we are looking for, and may have a poor sense of our individual style or what enhances us.  This makes us vulnerable to gimmicks or glitzy sales tactics (e.g., half-off sales, looks great on the model) which only reinforces our regretful purchases. But through my jumpsuit purchase, I learned two things. One, don’t go clothes shopping with a new baby. And two, regretful purchases can actually teach us something about our style. For me, the colors and pattern of the jumpsuit were wrong and I felt more comfortable with a simpler one that functioned as a staple in my wardrobe. As Tess Whitehurst says in her book Magical Fashionista, clothes should fit your unique message and energy. What energy or vibe do you give off? Simple or fussy? Edgy or girly? Colorful or brooding? Somewhere in between? For me, it might change depending upon how I’m feeling that particular day. But if you aren’t sure, let regretful purchases guide you towards understanding more about your sense of style.

2. You are a Slave to Trends

I enjoy fashion trends and love to follow them. Being aware of trends helps us to be attuned to shifts that are occurring in fashion and design, and gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate our personal style so we can decide whether we want to accommodate to those shifts.  But being attuned to trends and being dependent on them are very different. Trends are fresh and exciting, and it can be easy to get swept up in the hype of it all. If you blindly follow fashion trends without considering how those trends enhance or detract from your personal style, you might be relying on trends for security and approval without ever really finding your unique style. Studies show that those who use clothes to make the right impression feel good about themselves when they are satisfied with their clothes, but have a poor self-perception when they are dissatisfied. This is why it is important for YOU to make the clothes rather than have the clothes make you.

To minimize the chances that you will be overly dependent on trends, do an assessment on your wardrobe. Are most of your clothes staple pieces, trendy—lasting one or two seasons, or some mixture of both? If you want to build a wardrobe that you do not have to change out every season be sure to have more staple pieces than trendy ones, and be selective about the trends you buy. There have been times when I searched long and hard for a trendy item, and for good reason when I felt I found something fabulous that fits me. But there have also been times, as with the jumpsuit fiasco I mentioned, I’ve jumped at a trend without really thinking about whether it works on me or not. And even if I like it at first, I usually tire of it quickly. Before buying the next big trend, consider what message you want to convey to the world through your clothes? Then assess the trend(s) you’re considering. Will it enhance the message you want to convey? Or does it just show that you’re trendy.

3. Your Closet Stays in Disarray

An organized closet can make the mornings feel so simple and smooth, especially when your outfit is on the hanger waiting for you to grab it and go. On the other hand, a messy closet can make the mornings feels disorganized and rushed, especially if you have to sift through piles of clothes to get what you want. And usually you can’t find what you want which then leads to the inevitable “I have nothing to wear!”  Never mind that you have tons of tops, skirts, and pants that you at one time or another loved enough to buy. But now those clothes seem unflattering on the floor or stuffed in draws, making it difficult to create a look for the day that feels right. Your initial reaction may be to buy more clothes to fix the problem, but if your closet never gets organized, new clothes would likely only add to the chaos. In fact, if your closet it in constant disarray, it may signal disorganization or chaos in other areas of your life. Maybe you’ve been in a slump, dealing with depression, or experiencing high stress, and feel disorganized. If so, it is not uncommon for these issues to shows up in your wardrobe, waiting to get your attention.

A simple and direct way to resolve these closet issues is get your closet organized, even if you don’t feel like it. And as you organize your wardrobe accordingly, use it as a launching pad to organize other areas in your life. Start with clearing out your entire closet until it is empty, and sort your clothes into specific piles. For instance, you can make a pile for clothes with holes and rips; clothes you haven’t worn within the last year or more; clothes you wear regularly; and clothes you wear on special occasions. Throw away all the clothes that are old and beyond repair, and give away the clothes that you will likely never wear again. All of this makes room for new clothes. The act of throwing away and getting rid of old clothes that no longer work for you is more than a practical one, it is also an emotional process that can be applied elsewhere. For instance, if you are depressed or stressed, you may have to get rid of old ways of thinking to make room for new ways of processing and being with yourself and others. 

As you put back the remainder of clothes into your closet, create sections (e.g., skirts, pants, dresses) for each type of clothing. Then go through your staple pieces, the clothes you wear regularly, and see what other staple pieces you need to build the foundation for your wardrobe. If you don’t know what staple pieces to buy, this is your time to do your research. See what pieces are out there and decide which ones are right for you. Beyond the staple pieces, you’ll want to assess your more specialized pieces (e.g., clothing with patterns, colors, sequins) and see what you would add to give your wardrobe that something extra. You may have to do some research with this as well if you're not sure what is out there. This idea of making it work with what you have and adding more when you can, is powerful, as it shows an ability to place value on what you have, which in turn creates a momentum that allows you to get more.  For instance, if you have a skill but don’t value it, others probably won’t either making it less likely for you to expose the talent and possibly benefitting others and/or making a living off of it. So while organizing your closet may not fix all of life’s problems, it can be an important to help you make significant shifts elsewhere in your life.

4. You Are Overly Preoccupied with Clothing Size

What size are you? This may feel like a loaded question, kind of like asking someone how much they weigh or how old they are. This is because our sense of self and body image are so wrapped up in clothing size, and we manage ideas about our body and self through clothing. Let’s say a store carries tons of size 6’s or 8’s but very few 12’s or above. This can send a message about the value they place on bigger sizes, and we may start to internalize the idea that a specific size equates to degree of value. Studies show that women in particular, often get around these feelings by “cheating” the numerical indicators of clothing size. That is, stores use different sizings for the same body type, and a size 6 in one store may be the equivalent to a size 10 in another. So if a woman wants to feel thinner, she’ll shop in the store that makes her a 6 rather than a 10. While striving to be a size “blank again" is all of us, how we feel about ourselves and our bodies should not be dependent upon the sizing used to quantify our bodies. And if it is, it’s often reflective of deeper-seated issues about our worth and value."

If you find that you are overly preoccupied with clothing size, perhaps you can do some introspection to find out why you place so much value on it. What does it mean about you to not be size “blank”? Are those meanings accurate? Or, what other aspects of you are valuable? These types of questions can go a long way in challenging some faulty ideas you have. Then the next time you go shopping, try to avoid looking at the sizes and choose clothes by how well they fit you. You'll feel and feel more confident in clothes that fit regardless of the size. If you need to take a friend with you for support who can help you pick out sizes without being preoccupied with them, then do so. The idea is to lessen the value you place on clothing size in relation to your own self-worth and sense of value.

5. Your Wardrobe Feels Uninspiring

There may be a number of different reasons why you feel uninspired by your wardrobe, but if your clothes generally do not fit the life you want to live, there is probably a disconnect between you and your wardrobe. You may feel stuck with nothing to wear, or the clothes you wear may not enhance your life in any meaningful way. This could signify that you are stuck in another area of your life. Maybe you feel stuck in a job, a relationship, or a lifestyle that no longer works. In the book, Magical Fashionista, Tess Whitehurst says your clothes should help you feel as if the life you want is already in place. Putting together outfits each day that enhances your life and conveys a message about who you are in the world is a very important creative endeavor, and the more fitting the outfit, the better equipped you are to fulfill your purpose.

One way to cope with feeling uninspired about your wardrobe is to get to the source of what’s keeping you stuck. Consider the lifestyle you want. What are your career goals, your relationship goals, or your educational goal? Once you determine that, you can start to curate a wardrobe that reflects these goals. If your goal is to spend more nights out, then consider buying more party clothes. If it is to get a particular job, then buy outfits suitable for the position. Even if you don’t have the job yet, the very act of buying a suitable wardrobe for it shows you have the faith and guts needed to make your goals a reality. It’s certainly a process and may not get resolved overnight but remember, changes in one area can make it easier to make changes in another area.

What other ways do you think a wardrobe is a sign of distress, and what tips do you have for dealing with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Four Good Reasons to Organize Your Space Now

What better time to spruce up your space than the spring? With all its new blooms and airy freshness, it’s hard not to catch the wave of inspiration, especially with all the cool organizing gadgets out there. Still, just because we want to organize our stuff or even need to, doesn’t mean we do it.

While the idea of spring cleaning sounds lovely, sifting through months or even years of clutter can be a challenge. Oftentimes the stress of a busy life causes us to live in a state of disorganization longer than we’d like to be. I know I've let things pile up during stressful periods with no effective organizing system in place.

Some of us bounce back relatively quickly, and can put together a nicely, organized space showing no trace of the disaster that was there only a day before. Others have a harder time, and disorganization may be reflective of deeper, emotional conflicts that create a feeling of being stuck both inside and out. Since organizing is as much an emotional activity as a physical one, the process of decluttering, throwing away, and organizing can be an important initial step in alleviating emotional distress. So whether it’s pretty easy to get organized once you put your mind to it, or you need more of a push to make it happen, here are 4 good reasons to get yourself in gear and start organizing now.

1. Clutter is Disrupting Your Life.

The Problem: Each morning you raid through every nook and cranny of your home trying to find the keys you last dumped…somewhere. They’re never in the same place twice and can usually be found amidst other stuff you’ll soon be searching for. Maybe you turn over every bin in your home office looking for the stapler or other supplies you were just using five minutes ago. How about your closet has, shall we say, “expanded” to other parts of the room, and now you choose your outfits from a pile on the floor where your shoes should be. Your disorganization is becoming less tolerable each day— it’s affecting your daily routine, makes you feel lousy about your space, and intensifies every other negative feeling you have.

The Why: When you’re disorganized in one area of life, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find that level of disorganization elsewhere. Be aware of patterns in your life. The clutter may mirror the chaos you’ve been experiencing in your career, relationships, or other significant area.

The Fix: Once you recognize those areas that are just as topsy-turvy as your things, begin to deal by creating an organized, functional space that is more reflective of the way you’d like to approach life. As much as clutter can negatively affect how we proceed through the day, an organized space can have a similar, opposite effect giving us a positive, renewed outlook and more clarity to tackle other challenges.

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2. You're Tired of Dreaming About It:

The Problem: You want the dream life, the dream job, and of course, the dream home. Maybe you’ve fantasized over well kempt homes you see on blogs or in mags, or you’ve visualized down to the last detail how you'd organize our home. You have a habit of buying organizing accessories that up until now have only collected dust, adding to the clutter.

The Why: While dreams can certainly propel us to action, the relationship between dreams and action is complicated. Studies show positive fantasies can actually hinder people from taking action. This is because dreaming relaxes us, making it more difficult to feel the need to do something. It’s kind of like we substitute the fantasy for the doing, and the good vibes we get from it makes us less attuned to cues that might otherwise help us interpret our situation in a more realistic way. So if you spend your time dreaming about a well laid out closet, you may be missing out on real-life opportunities that could help you get the closet you want.

The Fix:When dreams are combined with a realistic assessment of our situation, we are more likely to turn them into action. Think about the resources you don’t or do have to get organized. (Maybe you have limited storage and feel overwhelmed, but have a very organized friend who can help.) Then make a plan of action to deal with what is standing in the way of you and organizing. This way your fantasy can be grounded in reality; and when you resolve to make the sacrifice (whatever that may be for you) needed to take action, you are in a better position to see your organized space take shape.  

3. You’re Ready for a More Fulfilling Life.

The Problem: Disorganization is negatively affecting other areas of your life, and you’re not living life as fully as you’d like to. You have a cluttered space that is confining and prevents you from expanding, and this may signal difficulties with expanding and growing in other areas.   

The Why: Many times we’re stuck in a clutter rut with a lack of clarity on what our clutter means about us. It can mean different things for different people. Maybe it symbolizes remnants of your past you’re committed to holding on to. Or maybe you buy a bunch of stuff that reflects the life you plan on living but haven’t gotten to yet. Sometimes clutter is adaptive such as when you’ve experienced a significant loss or trauma and can’t focus on organizing anything at the moment because you’re just trying to survive. But if your disorganization has long outlasted the event and you can’t seem to take action, avoidance can make it worse.

The Fix: Get clear on what your clutter means for you and address it. If your stuff is a reminder of people or things you don’t want to forget, think of other ways you can keep memories alive like limiting keepsakes to one box (it may be a very large box, but it’s one box), or transferring photographs to the computer. If  you’ve bought tons of stuff for the life you’ll have someday, say business exec, identify what changes you need to make in your life to achieve that lifestyle. Then use the stuff you have to support the change, like a display shelf with self-help books to help bring out your inner bossdom. Although you may still feel not quite like yourself, cleaning up after you’ve been dealing with a significant loss is a good sign you are adjusting to your new normal. The more stuff you clear out and organize, the more room you make for new and rewarding things both physically and emotionally.  

4. You Want to See That More Fulfilling Life by the End of the Year.

The Problem: If you promised yourself that you were going to organize your home this year, and you haven’t started yet, chances are it’s not happening any time soon. Most of us have gone through a major life transition that makes it difficult to focus on organizing. And before we realize it, we’re six months in with no sign that this cycle of “meaning to” is coming to an end.

The Why: The condition of your space is a pretty accurate indicator of how you think and feel,. When you keep pushing off organizing, you become more comfortable with the discomfort of the clutter, and the life you are looking for continues to feel out of reach. If you take the time to organize it even though you don’t feel like it, it sends a message that you are working through those things that are holding you back. Usually just deciding to do it is all it takes to get your wheels turning in the right direction. It’s much like working-out-- you may not want to but you always feel better afterward.

The Fix: If you think of your space as a catalyst to the life shift you envision, you can begin to see it differently and get the much needed boost to work on it now. Maybe you want to start a home business but haven’t started working towards it, still organize a workspace to help you run one efficiently. It doesn’t matter if nothing much in your life says business owner right now. It will. If you want to be more social this year but haven’t had time to reach out, create a sitting area to entertain friends even with no specific plans to entertain in the near future. You might have plans sooner than you think after exerting the effort of putting together a little gathering space. There’s something about behaving as if things are the way you want them (even if they aren’t yet) that puts things in motion. You don’t have to wait to make these first small steps. If you feel you need some help to start, considering hiring someone like a professional organizer, an interior stylist or designer, or even a design psychologist who can help you create a space that promotes the growth and change you are seeking.


What To Do If You Have A Difficult Personality

How to know if You’re the Difficult One

How do we know if we have a difficult personality, or we just think we do?  First, let’s be clear-- everyone has flaws and there is no perfect personality. But if you have a pattern of difficult personality traits, it will usually show up in your relationships. Here are a few ways to tell.

You are the Center of the Drama

Do you you always seem to be at the center of drama and spend a great deal of your time and energy brooding about it? Maybe you always find yourself in conflict with someone at the office, and nearly everyone including your most easy-going colleague has lashed out at you. Perhaps  even family or true friends have called you out on your  behaviors. Or, they always have to phrase statements a “certain” way for you to understand them, and walk on eggshells around you. If any of these sound familiar,  then you may be struggling with difficult personality traits.

Your Relationships Never Go As Planned

If you are struggling with difficult personality traits, it’s  probably costing you your relationships. Maybe you have conflicting ideals (e.g., you want people to like you but you also want to be in control), have a rigid way of perceiving situations, and/or have a  low tolerance for anyone who does not see things the way you do. While you may have family that will always love you or you’re lucky enough to have some true friends that have stuck around, you likely have a much more difficult time maintaining positive family relationships, friendships, and/or romantic relationships than you would otherwise.

It’s Never You

Perhaps you may feel that others, not you, are the problem. Some with problematic personality traits, including those with traits severe enough to qualify as personality disorder, rarely ever question their behaviors or consider that they may be at fault during a conflict. This can cause quite a few problems, if not for them, then everyone else-- and they probably don’t read articles like this with themselves in mind. On the other hand, you may have come a long darn way in trying to improve yourself and your relationships, which by the way is highly commendable. But you still genuinely struggle with seeing or understanding situations from another’s perspective.

What to Do if you have Difficult Personality Traits

A major difference between those with difficult personality traits and those who are well, less difficult is that at some point, they were distressed by their relationships enough to consider they needed to make some changes to the way they interact with others. And while this process may be difficult, you don’t have to be. Here are some tips to follow.

Thoughts Happen- Be Aware

Sometimes thoughts happen so quickly that they occur below our level of awareness. But just because you aren’t aware of them, doesn’t mean they don’t have a big impact on the way you feel and behave. I remember times when I’d immediately assume someone didn’t like something I said or did and for no particular reason other than fear- fear of being judged or not liked, or fear of having to re-live a negative experience. When we automatically assume the worst, it places us on the defense, and defensive people don’t exactly give off the warm and fuzzies.

Check Your Patterns

We humans are pretty predictable. We can come in contact will all different kinds of people from all over the world but we usually have a limited repertoire of behavioral styles we use to interact with them. And these behaviors are based upon a pattern of thoughts and feelings that drive how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see ourselves in relation to others. What are some patterns of thoughts and feelings you notice you have when you meet a new person, are out and about with friends, talking with coworkers, or just spending time with family? It’s important to check the way you think, feel, and behave for any unhealthy patterns you need to break.

Be Adjustable

It’s one thing to understand our unhealthy patterns of interactions, but another thing to know what to do about it. Those with relatively healthy personality traits have learned to adjust their behaviors or empathize more easily than others. But our behavioral patterns are so ingrained in us that it is difficult to change behaviors we know are not good for us, or behaviors that once worked for us. Maybe being defensive worked when you were constantly being attacked, but now that you are no longer around those people, you still respond the same way, even though you don’t have to, and even though it may not be good for you. If you can relinquish some of your rigidity even before you think you’re ready to, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you are still okay afterwards.

Try Something New

Once you decide you’re going to start making some adjustments to the way you relate, then you have to decide which behaviors to adjust to. It’s time to consider some new, healthier ways to relate to both yourself and others. Let’ say you have a  problem with external validation and need attention, you’ll first want to gain some understanding of the source of these issues and consider healthier ways to satisfy those needs. This isn’t easy to do, and many people opt for professional help to do it, particularly if they’ve behaved the same way for years. But any new behavior starts with a simple decision to do it.

Setbacks are Part of the Process

Usually when we are trying to get rid of old, unhealthy patterns of relating, it takes a minute before we can see some lasting changes. You’ll probably stumble along the way because, let’s face it, you don’t go from being the difficult co-worker in the office to being Mary Poppins in a couple of days. And it’s not so much about how others’ perceive you as much as it is about how you perceive yourself and others, which is typically the root of the problem. If someone says something that triggers you, you may resort to old patterns of relating such as shutting down or attacking. But instead of looking at it like a setback, consider it an opportunity to behave differently next time so you’ll be less vulnerable to others’ slights against you.

Stay Compassionate- You are Not Your Personality Problems

Any changes towards a healthy personality style begins with self-compassion to know that you are not your personality problems. You may feel that way because your personality is so much a part of you. But problematic personality traits are really just unhealthy coping skills you have acquired to help you get through life. Once you can see yourself, with all your good qualities and quirks, as separate from your personality problems it will be easier to shed them. Visualize how you would feel about yourself and others if you did not have to deal with the insecurities and fears that are at the root of your personality problems. Your relationships with others would probably improve because people would see a difference in the way you relate to yourself and them.

These are just a few tips and are not meant to take the place of clinical treatment. If you are struggling with problematic personality traits and relationship problems too severe to handle on your own, try seeking the assistance of a professional. It may be more helpful than you realize.


Five Tips for Not Feeling Disgruntled While Antique Shopping

Antique shopping is one of my favorite things to do.  Flea markets, garage sales, second-hand shops, estate sales and sometimes even someone’s trash (yes trash!) can all be great places to find those one-of-a-kind pieces. I love sifting through objects with a sense of history, finding treasure amongst the “junk,” and scoring a great find for way less than what it’s worth. But there are many times when I find nothing at all, and oh man, it’s frustrating. Perhaps you are able easily access great antique shops like the ones features in this article by; but if you are not, you might be suffering from a bad case of weak antiquitis. Trust me, I can relate. Unlike the booming flea markets and vintage shops I see on television— you know the ones with the quirky sellers who always have awesome period furniture, many of the flea markets and vintage shops I visit often do not have what I'm looking for.  But I find the more experience you have with antique shopping, the better you’ll get at scoring those unique vintage pieces. So if you’ve been a little disgruntled lately about making what may seem like wasted trips looking for antique treasures, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way that may make you feel like it’s worth your while.


1. Be Consistent. No matter how fed up I get when I come home empty-handed from antique shopping, I keep going back to the same places, often to flea markets or secondhand stores where I’ve found great vintage pieces at least once before. In psychology, we call this intermittent reinforcement because I’m being reinforced by the idea that there’s always a chance I’ll find another great item “this time.” Many expert antique shoppers take full advantage of this method by going to the same shops consistently to increase the chances of finding those special pieces. In fact, I know antique hunters who spend hours and hours a week searching for their “buried treasure.” Now I know what you’re thinking, who has time for that? I get it— most people including myself, have full-time jobs and other responsibilities that make it difficult to make elaborate trips during the week to a flea market 30 miles away. But maybe there are some local stores you can hit en route to or from work. Perhaps you pass the Salvation Army or a little vintage shop every day. Take a few minutes to stop in. You may be finally able to catch those one-of-a-kind pieces you’ve been searching for. And just by going into the store more often, you’ll be familiar with the merchandize, develop a sharper sense of what you like and don’t like, and spot something new and interesting much more quickly than you would have if you didn’t visit the store more regularly.   


2.  Do Your Homework. While consistency is key, you also don’t want to feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall by constantly going into a store that almost “never” has anything you are looking for. So in order to avoid this, do some homework, and find out about other sellers in your area. Estate sales are a great place to shop. You can almost always be sure to find one, and unlike garage sales, the owners are not in the home during the sale so they’re not likely to raise the prices of things they are emotionally attached to. You can go on to to find a bunch of estate sales in your area. Every home is different, and you can find a lot of interesting pieces. I find it so fascinating to go into people’s home and see how they lived, particularly older folks who may have had the home for fifty or more years. It’s kind of like being in a museum and often the price points are varied so there’s usually something for everyone.


3. Be Timely. If you’re antique shopping with a specific purchase in mind, and you know where to find it, you may experience an underlying sense of urgency.  I've often rushed to purchase something for fear someone will get it and I’d regret it for the rest of my life. But while we're all bound to miss out on a great sale or two, there are some things you can do to minimize the chances of missing out on those must-have items. Most of the highly sought after antique pieces are often sold quickly, so you’d want to be among the first customers on any given day to avoid missing out on the chance to buy the good stuff. With flea markets and garage sales in particular, the converse is also true. That is, it is good to go at the end of the day, when sellers are reluctant to keep large items and will likely lower their prices to get rid of their stock. However, this usually works for items that are not in high demand or the sellers have more than one of the item you are looking for.


4. Keep an Open Mind. Often when I am out vintage shopping, I try not to be preoccupied with any specific purchases I may have in mind. While I'm all for hoping for the best, I usually remind myself to relax and keep an open mind about it. Often, I find the best things when I’m not looking for them, or I find things I may not have thought I wanted at the time until I saw them. Shopping this way is much more carefree and if you don’t find anything special, you won’t feel like you lost out so much. As for those specific pieces I want,  I try to be more deliberate in my search for those items by searching for it online instead of leaving it up to chance when I’m out antiquing.  This way, I'll be less likely to feel let down by not finding it.


5. Enjoy the process. While you may not always find great vintage pieces, you are probably learning a lot more than you think  just by going through the process. Personally, I enjoy learning about the history of different objects, learning what shops are good for which items, and all about the coolest antique stores from shopkeepers or other shoppers. And all of this works to make me a more experienced antique shopper. So when you’re feeling a little bummed out about coming home from a shopping trip empty-handed, realize that it is all part of the process of becoming a pro antique shopper, which is nothing to feeling disgruntled about.

What are some of your experiences while antique shopping? Feel free to share your shopping tips in the comments below!


5 Tips for Transitioning to a New Career

You’ve been at your job for a few years now and feel the need to shift. And it’s not just any job, but one you went to school for so you feel super conflicted about changing it. You thought you had it all figured out.

Go to school for this many years, get this and that job, and if it doesn't work out, you could always switch, right?

Absolutely. One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve gotten is that we all have the right to change something we don’t like about our lives. If you don’t like your hair color, change it. If you want a better attitude, change it. And if you aren’t satisfied with your career choice, change it.

But there’s another piece of advice, people don’t often tell you.

Changing careers is hard.

Especially if you and your family depend upon the career you have now. Sometimes it's not as cut and dry as changing a career as much as it’s about incorporating a new one into your old one—kind of like what I’m doing (see here). But it’s nonetheless challenging.

I started off my career path with a clear goal in mind and earned my way to a Ph.D. in counseling psychology— an accomplishment which took a large chunk of years out of my young adult life (11 years to be exact). I knew I was doing something meaningful, and the idea that I could make a real difference in the lives of others by helping them heal from the inside out was nothing short of amazing. But just because I had a clear goal doesn’t mean I didn’t have questions.

Like what about all those days I spent glued to the fashion channel looking at runway shows, or being inspired by fashion magazine layouts, and dreaming up outfits I’ve never seen? What about all those interior design magazines I spent hours sifting through, and the hours daydreaming about how I’d design a room? What was supposed to happen with that? Maybe they would just be relegated to pastime hobbies. Maybe.

But as the years passed, I started feeling unfulfilled professionally. I began looking at blogs and people doing creative things that inspired me, and made me rethink my career path. Did I make a mistake? Did I pick the WRONG profession? The mere idea of it was disturbing enough to keep my head spinning and the tear ducts flowing until I couldn’t even think a clear thought. I was suffering from what psychologists call dichotomous thinking. It’s a cognitive distortion that suggests things have to be black or white, with no in between. It’s a rigid, unimaginative, emotionally-driven thought process that never allows for a resolve and keeps you stressed.

I didn’t have enough faith to recognize that life flows, and a career decision you make at one stage in your life can be just as valid and right as a different career decision you make at another stage in your life. And it does not mean either one was wrong.

It all works together for good— if you let it.

And if you’re willing to handle the challenges that come with the turns, you can make a successful change. Here are some tips I’ve learned to help you through the process.

1. Get re-educated.Even if you don’t have the time or resources to get another four year degree, there are many other ways to get re-educated such as through online and in-person training programs. Of course, the requirements you'll need depend upon your chosen profession, but you may be able to start off with a certificate, or you can take courses to learn a specific skill, or even read up and train yourself. Long gone are the days when you have to sit in a classroom to get an education (although there's nothing wrong with that, ha!). Now with a little creativity, you’ll be surprised how much you can learn at a fraction of the cost it takes to get a four year degree.

2. See what you can take with you. It can be disheartening to feel that you put so much work into a career only to decide to change it just as you were starting to make good money from all that hard work. But if you can find a way to use what you already know and apply it to your new career, you may have a renewed perspective on your skills and what you can offer to others. One of the things I really like about psychology is it's applicability to other professions. I can apply it to design and make it work for me instead of feeling like I have to follow a traditional psychology career path. Even if your new career bears very little resemblance to your old one, you may still be able to find a way to apply what you already know with a little out of the box thinking, making the transition just a little smoother.

3. Strategize. Most of us can’t just pick up and leave our job at a moment’s whim (if you can, ruuuuun! and don’t look back). But for the rest of us, it’s going to take a little more forethought. If you decide that you need a shift in your career, don’t get frustrated and give up if you don’t see a job move in your future. Often the conditions are never perfect enough for us to do what we’d like to do. So we have to take life by the horns and create it ourselves. One way to do this is to strategize a plan for you to transition. For me, I allow myself certain days to work on blog and business stuff while still carving out time to do my full-time clinical job. It doesn’t always work and sometimes I get discouraged, but if you keep plugging away at a thing, you’ll eventually get to where you’re going.

4. Be compassionate.This can’t be stressed enough. There are so many people who want to change careers but they feel they don’t have  enough time, or money; or they feel they're too old, or they don't have enough support or resources. Whatever the reason, they stay where they are, in a place they’d rather not be and grow miserable. But if you are doing something, even if it's small, it's a sign you aren't stuck, and have a passion for living and growing. So when things get tough and you feel like nothing is happening, remember you ARE doing something even if it feels not enough. Because eventually a whole lot of not enough begin to equal enough.

5. Don't quit. Now I’m at a point in my career when my diverse interests and passions are starting to coming together—my inclination to work with young people, my knack for counseling, my love of design... And by considering it all, I’m better understanding the unique calling I have on my life. It’s like one big puzzle, and there are some days I’m so excited, but other days I’d rather sit on the couch and watch television (actually that  sounds like a good idea on any day). Either way, I made up in my mind not to quit even when I want to. Trying to put the pieces of my life together is actually a great motivator. It's like trying to solve a big mystery that is me, and maybe it is that way for you too. What components of your life are you putting together?

These are some of my ideas about how to transition careers. If you have any of your own, feel free to share them here. I’m always looking for new ideas.

(BTW, these pics are from my family room/office. It's not completely finished but it's coming together slowly but surely.)